Sultanate of Oman Implements Newest Solutions for Scientific Discovery
The Sultanate of Oman in the southeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula is sparing no expense in supporting science education with technology. The government’s goal is to prepare students to compete in all aspects of scientific investigation, keep pace with global scientific progress and contribute to the scientific community worldwide.
Oman’s vision for the development and advancement of science comes directly from its highest authority—His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. With wholehearted support for this initiative, the country’s Minister of Education began to acquire state-of-the-art equipment, software, electronic sensors and other materials in 2006. They also implemented a learning process that allows students to explore concepts and develop skills using a variety of innovative techniques. In particular, new technologies, such as PASCO scientific’s hands-on, inquiry-based data collection solutions, are enabling students to discover aspects of science that in the past were more difficult or cumbersome to experiment with.
“Our goal is to continue to implement technologies that will give students the best experience and make science concepts clear and concise,” said M. Ahmed Dhugaishi, Deputy Director for Technology Laboratory section at the Ministry of Education in the capital city of Muscat. “In the initial stage we tried out sensor technology from two companies. The systems were distributed to many schools and, based on the feedback, schools found PASCO’s solutions easier to use, more accurate and more cost effective.”
Students are more engaged in learning, which results in a better understanding of scientific principles and retention of abstract scientific concepts.
Haseena Al Maskeri, Head of department Science lab in Muscat
Recognizing that science education should reflect the real world, the Ministry of Education provided school science laboratories with advanced, sensor-based data collection tools. In addition, laboratories were remodeled with new wiring and furnishings, learning resources were developed to provide students with activities through which they would learn how to use the sensors, and professional development sessions were conducted.
PASCO contributed datalogging equipment, training, Arabic software and local support through its partner Mustafa Sultan Enterprises. To date, sensor-based experiments have been introduced in science labs at 400 secondary schools with a goal to cover all 700 schools over the next few years.
The response has been very positive.
“This generation is more technology driven,” said Haseena Al Maskeri, Head of department Science lab in Muscat. “Sensors, Data Studio and the SPARK Science Learning System have attracted the student. They are very interested in using the new technologies. Students are more engaged in learning, which results in a better understanding of scientific principles and retention of abstract scientific concepts.”
Khalid Al-Siyabi, Senior lab technician said it has been very easy to use the technology and to adapt the sensors and the worksheets to suit the curriculum and outcomes. “Using technology from PASCO provides quick, accurate results and allows students to observe the results in a different ways, such as a table or graph,” he said. “Students can observe the data in many different ways changing the parameters of the experiment.”
In an environment where students are encouraged to search for in-depth understanding of scientific truth and to demystify myths and illusions, both the Ministry of Education and Mr. Al-Siyabi report that the inclusion of advanced technologies in school laboratories has yielded overwhelmingly positive results. Among them:
- Teachers find it easy to teach the concepts and make them clear to students in a short period of time. Students are able to keep pace with global scientific progress.
- Students acquire enjoyment for and a love of research.
- Technology has reduced the time required for scientific experiments.
- There is greater accuracy with technology-based data collection and analysis.
- Higher levels of student achievement have been reported.
- Improvements have been seen in the acquisition of skills such as conceptual understanding, practical reasoning, and application of scientific concepts.
- Class scores have gone up and higher levels of student achievement have been reported.
- The use of PASCO digital probeware promotes self-motivated, active learning and encourages creativity rather than memorization—skills applicable to the job market.
- Overall, the importance of technology in science, in general, and in the field of empirical science, in particular, has been demonstrated.
Even as it completes its goal to achieve advanced secondary science education, the Ministry of Education is formulating a long-range plan to introduce probeware in all schools. As a result, Oman’s vision leads the Gulf region in preparing students to play an integral role in the knowledge economy and to become productive members of a competitive workforce.